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Favourite Thing I’ve Written and Why #MFRWauthor

The Valiant ChroniclesWriters are often asked what favourite books influenced their works. For most authors, that list is long.

Mine includes The Lord of the Rings, Watership Down, Duncton Wood, anything by Margaret Atwood, Gone with the Wind, and Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead (don’t groan — I didn’t say I agreed with her philosophy.)

The longer I contemplate the works that influenced me, the more I could add to that list: Piers Anthony (yes, his works lean towards the sexist, but that’s what influenced me to write stronger female characters. Influence means to have an effect on, not agree with); Clive Barker; Stieg Larsson; George R. R. Martin; Stephen King; and, in the last few years, Nora Roberts.

The list could still go on.

Influences culminate in some fascinating writing from the influenced. I love reading about what works and authors affected other writers because it gives me insight into the results of that influence.

All of the above have influenced everything I’ve written, particularly my Valiant Chronicles series. A Ring of Truth, part two of the two-part set, is my favourite of all the things I’ve written.

Stephen King has said that The Stand is his homage to Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, and The Valiant Chronicles are mine. While the stories aren’t remotely similar, the concepts explored and the epic nature of the stories reveal the LOTR influence. Since LOTR was my favourite book of all time, it’s not surprising that its effects resonate throughout my writing.

Of all my works, A Ring of Truth rekindles for me the pleasure I got from reading LOTR. I’m not arrogant enough to believe the book comes anywhere close to LOTR, but it ticks a lot of the boxes for what I love about Tolkien’s series.

AROT has multiple characters you can relate to. Not all of them are heroic to begin with but are forced to become heroes whether they like it or not. It explores cowardice and courage. One character caves quickly under torture while another endures it. Valid reasons exist for this: one is a regular guy and the other is a trained assassin.

Anytime I’ve watched movies or read stories where the hero is tortured and not only doesn’t cave but escapes and kicks tormentor ass, I enjoyed the ass-kicking but couldn’t relate to the way the scenario plays out.

I’m definitely more the regular guy.

AROT is more violent than LOTR and sex is, in AROT, “a weapon, a tool and a healing,” to quote an Amazon reviewer. We’re all affected by our relationships with others, especially the intimate relationships we have had and, most specifically, the intimate physical relationships. I can’t write a story without factoring in a character’s sex life whether it’s nonexistent or compulsive or anything in between.

The explorations in AROT that I had the most fun with deal with mind control, memory manipulation, and how memory forms who we are. I explore memory (and truth versus lies) and its effects on character and behaviour in Injury as well, but in AROT, it’s far more blatant.

The ring itself, while not a magic ring, plays a pivotal role in the hero’s journey and in revealing the truth — hence the title.

It’s always fun to discover books that have multiple layers, so my goal in writing a story is to provide something that can be enjoyed on more than one level. I strive to provide the reader pleasure in the reading experience both at the visceral and the intellectual level.

Reading should be a rewarding experience. The authors who influenced me rewarded me with thousands of hours of pleasure in my lifetime. In my writing, I’d like to pay that pleasure forward to other readers.



8 Responses

  1. I agree. My goal as a writer is for readers to fall in love with my characters the way I’ve fallen in love with so many over the years.

  2. It’s easy to see that AROT is close to your heart in many ways.

  3. Hello, Val, thanks for sharing a very thought-provoking post!

  4. Enjoyed your posts. What we read can influence what we write. It’s great that your story reminded you in ways of a story that you love. Your story sounds very multi-dimensional and intriguing and I can see why you picked it.

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